FACTORS IN INDUSTRIAL COMPETITION. 429
the disastrous strike at Homestead drew thirty thousand dollars a year.
It might be of advantage to pay still higher bribes to the leaders of the workmen, since such wages for rollers cannot be called earnings, if it were not for the fact that there is a limit to what the members of a union will stand, for it is necessary to keep in mind that the action of the committee is not final. The signature of the company bears with it the highest responsibility, but the signature of the committee is worthless. It may or may not be agreed to by the union, but whether it is or is not, the decision does not carry with it the slightest financial responsibility. It does not bind and cannot bind any individual to work for the company a day longer than he chooses, and if the industrial situation brightens and men find more remunerative employments it is the privilege of each and every man to leave, and if they choose to go out on a sympathetic strike there is no redress for a violated contract.
I do not believe in such inequitable arrangements, nor do I believe in arbitration on many of the questions arising, or in a system of committees so organized. I believe that each man who thinks himself ill treated should have access to the office of the manager. It is the right of appeal to a higher court, and it is the rare exception that a body of men appear to discuss a question unless there is some ground for their action. Investigation generally shows that their statements are correct, and while the workmen are trying to get all that they can, and while the manager is trying to give as little as he may, the level-headed men generally lead in the argument, a fair and equitable arrangement can be made, and no man feels that he is outwitted by a committeeman. He has stated his case; he has heard the reply; he remains a free citizen to accept the offer or to .decline it, and no works can long operate if the offer is not just and right.
There may be cases where different conditions govern and where large bodies of skilled men of one trade may join for mutual protection; but in a steel works where hardly any two positions are alike, either in nature of work or in rate of pay, the labor organization as at present constituted has no place. Moreover, under no condition will it ever be more than an unworthy and petty factor in the universal labor problem until it gives up once and for all the tenet it now holds to be fundamental, that a limit of production